Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tolerating intolerance

What' s a diversophile to do?:

Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

IKEA, which has more than 200 stores in 32 nations, fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds. Its manuals show only men or cartoon figures whose sex is unclear.

On the one hand we have the need to respect other cultures, on the other hand we have the need to not discriminate in hiring cartoon characters.

The cultural relativism that is an inherent part of diversity runs up against this contradiction: the only culture to actually treat all of its constituent parts as equals despite race, gender or religion is Western culture. Other cultures are coming around, but only after infusions of Western-style thought and governance. Is it right to tolerate cultures that are intolerant?

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